Medical causes most popular as more people regularly donate slightly less to charity

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More people are giving money to charity, but the average donation has gone down, according to new figures.

Data gathered by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) revealed an additional 1.1 million people donated money to charity in the year to February 2011, taking the total to about 29.5 million.

However, the average amount given per month fell from £12 in 2009/10 to £11, so the total value of donations, £11bn, remained the same as the previous year.

The ONS surveyed more than 3,000 adults aged 16 and over on behalf of the Charities Aid Foundation and the National Council for Voluntary Organisations.

They found that women aged 45-64 were most likely to give, while people aged 16-24 were least likely.

Charities Aid Foundation chief executive John Low said: “It’s really encouraging that despite sharp rises in the cost of living, more people are supporting charities. The economic downturn means many more people are turning to them for help, and charities themselves are struggling against rising costs, so every pound is really needed. I hope this trend will continue.”

The most popular cause is medical research, to which more than 11 million people donate monthly. A quarter of these give money to hospitals while 24 per cent donate to charities supporting children.